I started this year thinking it would be my year for travel, so I made all my plans to move back to the land of the rising sun. Two and a half months in, and what’s being reported as a pandemic of potentially apocalyptic proportions is thwarting my plans somewhat. Here’s why I’m moving back to Japan anyway, despite the threat of COVID-19.
I’ll admit it: I’m a little scared. But not because of the reason you probably think I am.
There is something very scary about moving to a country that’s in the middle of a massive toilet paper shortage (and I’m sure a bunch of other things like hand sanitizer are hard to come by right now, too). The idea of having to travel to three different supermarkets just to find a packet of toilet paper or a box of tissues sounds terrifying.
It’s almost as scary as the threat of catching a virus that causes pneumonia and even death. And yet, I can’t seem to bring myself to cancel my plans for a disease which ALSO, according to the World Health Organization, results in only “mild disease” and then recovery for most people who catch it.
People keep telling me I’m nuts for making plans to head in the direction of a country that’s been criticised for its slow response to the outbreak, but I’m not about to halt my life and all my plans for THAT. In a country of over 100 million people, Japan has reported only 511 cases of infection (if you exclude those from that nightmare petri-dish of a cruise ship, the Diamond Princess). That’s a teeny tiny fraction of the population.
Really, the biggest issue right now for most travellers like myself, (apart from the aforementioned toilet paper thing – Should I pack some in my suitcase?) is the travel bans that some countries are imposing. I’ve got myself a ticket to Korea in May that I probably won’t be able to use unless I fancy a holiday in a quarantine facility when trying to re-enter Japan (I don’t).
Flight prices are all over the place as passengers flock from certain airlines (particularly those from Asia) to alternative options, and then you still may have to deal with the stress of having your flight cancelled at the last minute, and nobody wants to deal with that.
I’m not trying to downplay the severity of the situation, but the reality is that this virus is probably going to continue spreading from country to country, and person to person, because that’s what viruses do. You can stay home and never see daylight (which sucks, in my opinion), or you can brave the outside world and risk being exposed to this invisible enemy. Life is short. If it’s not coronavirus now, there’ll probably be some other issue later.
Furthermore, since this virus is making its merry way across the globe whether we want it to or not, I’d rather be in a country that’s better equipped to deal with it. Check out our article about the difficulties South Africa may face now that it’s reached our shores here.
And while I’m advocating for NOT cancelling all your adventure plans, I’m also not saying you should try to go on a tour of Wuhan right now, but if you have made travel plans, like I have, why would you want to put them all on hold because of something that (if you’re a millennial) is PROBABLY not going to kill you.
So I’m taking my opportunity to move back to a country I love and see more of the world. You should too, if that’s what you want to do, because like COVID-19, life is unpredictable and you never know if you’ll actually get the chance again.
But please, PLEASE, don’t be an asshole. Take all the precautions that are necessary to prevent the spread of this virus. If you’re feeling under the weather, rather stay home or get help from a medical practitioner. And remember:
If you’re still feeling nervous or unsure, check out our Millennial’s Guide to Coronavirus, and keep an eye on our site to keep up to date with all the latest updates.